Originally posted by BT
Originally posted by Scorereader
I'm in agreement with Mr. Chips. It's not cofee that Starbuck's sells, it's the hip, cool cafe environment. The proof is in the upstart of some new diners in DC that are hip and cool and all of the sudden the combination bar/diner is the place "to be" on a Friday night. A diner? the place to be?
Obviously, coffee is the product that is sold in the the Starbucks environment, and certainly there is a connection between coffee and sitting in a cafe. If you take your coffee to go, then you're just paying $4 for a fluffy coffee, but if you sit in the cafe for an hour or more with your $4 drink and some good friends, sitting in a sofa or at a chic table with a clear view of a window for people watching, and good conversation to boot, then that $4 is actually well spent. And that is really what Starbucks is selling. In major cities, there really aren't many places where you can order just a cup of coffee and occupy a table with your friends, or even by yourself, for an hour or more.
Interesting. Starbucks actually has a very "uncool" image in San Francisco, in spite of their efforts. They are seen as a corporate interloper, muscling in on both the local chain Peet's and the >100
(personally, I call that "many") locally owned and run coffee shops and cafes in the City. Cafe Trieste
claims to have started the coffee house phenomenon locally in the 1950's (when it was a hangout for "beatnik's" like local boy Lawrence Ferlinghetti). Nowadays they range from the traditional like Trieste to flamboyant "see and be seen" spots like Cafe Flore in the gay Castro neighborhood
to quiet neighborhood places like Sacred Grounds Cafe
in the Haight. All of these places are probably cheaper than Starbuck's (fluffy coffee maybe $2.50 or $3) and not only allow but encourage folks to sit and do homework, read the the paper or surf the web (many now have wireless broadband). Most of them have Starbuck's competition across the street or down the block, but Starbuck's tends to do best in SF at downtown Financial and business district locations where the rent would be too high for locals to compete or near transit hubs where people can grab a quick grande fru-fru non-fat whatever on the way to work or during a work break. They also dominate near tourist magnet's (i.e. Fisherman's Wharf etc) because the mom/pop coffee shops can look scary to out-of-towners (with their threadbare furniture, multi-pierced/tatooed baristas and poly-wierd customer base).
As for the uber-hip diner trend, I'm going to guess that SF's own Fog City Diner
may have started that one too with the notion of gourmet dinerfood more than a decade ago .
In DC, more places are opening up like Cosi's (another chain) and other neighborhood coffee shops, book stores with a cafe and poetry readings, music groups and open mics. But I think Starbuck's helped to spur it on. Perhaps in a place like SF which already had places like that, Starbuck's wasn't so necessary.
Sure, in the East, we had coffee shops before Starbuck's, but it wasn't the
popular thing to do necessarily. Going to a bar was surely a place to hang out with friends with one drink, of course, it also meant the involvement of alcohol.
Also, the new bar/diners that are opening are not the first. They're the first in a new wave of bar/diners to hit DC. Over a decade ago Cafe Deluxe opened in the Cathedral Heights neighborhood of DC and has been popular and "cool" since it opened. Along with the Zebra lounge across the street which is a coffee house and bar all wrapped into one. And "Au Pied De Cochon" has been selling diner food along with an open bar since the 60's. The place hasn't changed since the 60's as the booths are dilapitated, and the food is no longer fit for human consumption before 2am, but the wall is littered with the pictures of the famous visitors to Au Pied De Cochon since the 60's. Although, I think the last celeb to visit and give them a signed picture was some time in the 80's. But no matter, it's a relic that also shows that all the new hip diner-bars are really a throwback to an earlier time.
So, no, coffee shops and deluxe diners aren't new to DC either, many cafes and diners can trace it's roots back to the 50's (like Bob and Edith's Diner in Arlington,VA) and 60's too. But, the opening of these new places is showing the return of an old trend.
And while Starbuck's may not be "cool" in your town, threadbare furniture, multi-pierced/tatooed baristas and poly-wierd customers aren't the main hip trend here. "Cool" is different in different places.